If you told any lacrosse player to script out their final high school season, they’d likely come up with the one Century midfielder Caroline Little experienced.
Nineteen wins, no losses and the Class 2A state championship.
“We came together so well as a team,” Little said. “Starting out from the day of tryouts, we didn’t really know what to expect. We had a lot of roles to fill and a lot of young kids, too. The ability everyone had to step up and fill that role, we’ve never been this close as a team before. That just led to a lot of success. It was a fun end to my senior year.”
Little was the catalyst for a high-powered Century offense. She totaled 89 points with 55 goals and 24 assists, and also collected 73 draw controls and 56 ground balls as a leader on both ends of the field, according to coach Becky Groves.
In recognition of her phenomenal senior season and leading Century to a state championship, Little is the 2022 Carroll County Times girls lacrosse Player of the Year.
“A perfect season and a state championship, it was pretty fun,” Little said.
Little started playing lacrosse when she was 4. Throughout her youth, Little played several sports, but there was just something about lacrosse that stood out to her.
“I remember playing in rec leagues, I started playing in club in fourth grade, but when I was younger it was just the fun of it,” Little said. “It was never something I dreaded going to practice. It was like, ‘Mom, when’s lacrosse practice? I want to go.’ A couple other of my sports wasn’t like that, so I knew lacrosse was something special.”
With that the case, she put everything she had into becoming the best she could be.
A big part of her growth in the game came through club play with Hero’s 2022 Green.
“You want to play for the best of the best,” Little said. “Playing for them pushes you to play the best competition, gets you seen, gets you more experience and overall just makes you better. I was fortunate enough to play for one of the club teams that was the best of the best.”
But Little says there’s one factor that allowed her to stand out above all others: her teammates.
“They’re, in my opinion, the most important part of all of it,” she said. “The chemistry I’ve had not only with my high school team, but pretty much every player I’ve played with, if you don’t have that chemistry, your team doesn’t operate. It goes for everyone. It’s not just my [midfielder] line or my attackers, it’s everyone on the field, going back to the goalie and the players on the sideline. I could be having a bad game and all it takes is one of my teammates coming up to me and telling me I’m fine and I got this, and it’s a whole different game.”
With how she rates the importance of her teammates, it’s no surprise that Little feels the best part of her game is helping her teammates succeed.
“I really like to see others do things and I like to be the one to create those opportunities for them,” she said. “I think sometimes that’s even better than scoring myself, getting that really good assist or getting that draw control that leads to a goal right away.”
Little commited to play collegiately at Virginia Tech her junior year. She said the school wasn’t initially on her radar, but she was definitely on Virginia Tech’s.
“Coaches can reach out to you September 1 of your junior year, that’s the first time they can contact you. Virginia Tech was actually my first call right at 12 o’clock, which I had not expected,” Little said. “The coach [Kristen Skiera] was really compelling and super nice.”
Little is part of a talented senior class leaving Century following their championship and a state final appearance in 2021. But she hopes her class can leave a legacy that goes beyond a new championship banner.
“I want to leave a legacy of hard work. Nothing goes without hard work in my opinion,” she said. “It’s treating every game, no matter who you’re playing as your last game, leaving your all on the field knowing when you step off you did everything in your power to win that game.”
Coach of the Year
Becky Groves, Century
Groves guided Century to one of the finest seasons in program and Carroll County history. Her Knights went 19-0 and claimed the Class 2A state championship.
Her roster featured a great deal of talent, and Groves got the group to mesh together perfectly. She built a balanced offensive unit that had multiple threats to find the back of the net on any given play and a stingy defense that shut down some of the state’s best offenses.
Groves made the move to award the starting goalie job to freshman Becca Mullinix after a three-way competition, and Mullinix proved to be a smart choice as she anchored the back line.
Century’s county schedule included a win over eventual 1A state champion Liberty, and it topped the Lions a second time in a midseason tournament. They also scored a win over eventual 4A state champion Broadneck.
Century beat previously unbeaten Glenelg in the regional final, avenged last year’s loss to Middletown in the state semifinals and bested Baltimore County champion Hereford, 16-6, in the state final.
All-County first team
Anna Hackett, Century, senior, attack
Hackett led the state-champion Knights with 75 goals. She also had seven assists and collected 97 draw controls and 53 ground balls.
Lauren Hackett, Century, senior, attack
Called the “quarterback of the offense” by Groves, Hackett led Century with 101 points, balanced with 58 goals and 43 assists. She also picked up 39 ground balls.
Jess Kent, Westminster, junior, attack
Kent was the top offensive threat for a high-powered Owls offense that scored 13.6 goals a game and was held to single digits only twice.
Riley Matthiesen, Liberty, junior, attack
Matthiesen was responsible for creating a good portion of the offense for the 1A state champion Lions, scoring 52 goals and handing out 41 assists. The 93 points were a team-high.
Jasmine Stanton, Century, junior, attack
Also an All-County track and field selection, Stanton scored 68 goals and dished out seven assists for the state champion Knights. She also picked up 27 ground balls.
Jane Brewer, Century, junior, midfield-defense
Brewer scored 19 goals and added three assists while splitting time between midfield and defense. She had 78 draw controls, 60 ground balls and was part of a stingy Knights defense.
Shannon McTavish, South Carroll, junior, midfield
The Cavaliers’ junior captain scored 41 goals and handed out 27 assists. McTavish also collected 36 ground balls, caused 14 turnovers and picked up 108 draw controls, including 14 against Century and 13 against Westminster.
Casey Meredith, Manchester Valley, junior, midfield
The Towson commit scored 40 goals and handed out 17 assists for the Mavericks. A strong two-way player, she also collected 24 ground balls and caused 24 turnovers.
Emma Penczek, Manchester Valley, freshman, midfield
Penczek led the county in points during the regular season and finished the campaign with 94 points on 64 goals and 28 assists. She also collected 54 draw controls.
Val Thompson, Liberty, senior, midfield
Thompson was the top scoring option for the 1A state champion Lions with 74 goals. The Towson commit also finished with 18 assists and 84 draw controls. Her 92 points were one behind Mattthiesen for team-high.
Jess Bare, Manchester Valley, senior, defense
Bare, a Duquense commit, was a key part of a Mavericks’ defense that allowed fewer than six goals a game. She caused 11 turnovers and had seven ground balls while being responsible for marking the opponent’s top passer.
Aubrey Chopper, Manchester Valley, junior, defense
The Robert Morris commit marked the top opposing attacker for Manchester Valley, who lost just two games to Century and Glenelg. Chopper caused 12 turnovers and picked up nine ground balls.
Abby Fleishell, Century, senior, defense
Fleishell led a Knights defense that allowed just 5.7 goals per game during its unbeaten season. She was usually responsible for marking the other team’s top attacker and finished the year with 37 ground balls.
Julia Lucas, Liberty, junior, defense
Lucas was a key defensive leader for the Lions in their run to a second straight 1A state championship. Liberty allowed seven goals a game this season. She picked up 25 ground balls.
Ashlyn Watkins, Francis Scott Key, senior, goalie
Watkins kept the Eagles in many close games. She picked up 68 saves against 45 goals allowed, a save percentage of 60. She also had eight interceptions, four ground balls and two caused turnovers.
All-County second team
Kelsee Bittinger, Manchester Valley, senior, attack
Caroline Laur, South Carroll, junior, attack
Ally Pond, Liberty, junior, attack
Alex Powell, Winters Mill, senior, attack
Jenna Evans, Liberty, junior, midfield
Carroll County Daily Headlines
Katie Bornyek, Century, senior, defense
Izzy Lucas, Liberty, junior, defense
Sophia Vallandingham, Winters Mill, junior, defense
Cailin Yankle, South Carroll, sophomore, defense
Lauren Baldwin, Manchester Valley, senior, goalie
Becca Mullinix, Century, freshman, goalie
Addison Vallandingham, Winters Mill, freshman, goalie